Literary Essay Sample: Tradition of the People in The Lottery Story

Published: 2019-05-22
Literary Essay Sample: Tradition of the People in The Lottery Story
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Shirley Jackson American literature The Lottery
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 605 words
6 min read

The author uses some symbols to depict the tradition of the people. For instance The Lottery is symbolic. It refers to the unquestioned tradition and rituals that drive each society. The author gives insight to things that are useless to the people, but they still do them because that is the way they have always been doing them. The traditions can be simple like cutting down trees or complex like sexism just like in our modern societies.

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Lottery Box is the other symbolic aspect of the short story that the writer reveals to us. The box is a representation of the people in the town since it is the only connection to the lottery origin. The box is not the original one. However, the people believed that it had been created using the original boxs pieces. This reveals a lost meaning in the peoples original tradition making it difficult to question the tradition itself. This makes tradition so powerful thus people end up just following it without question. This relates to real life where people find themselves enslaved by their traditions.

Stoning observed at the end of the short story as an execution method had been used in early days. It gives some people the chance to express their feelings on how the offender should be dealt with. It shows that in passing of judgments, a lot of people are involved, no single person acts as an executer. This is related to real life where dealing with critical cases involve some people; the judges, the jury, and lawyers.

When considering the author of the story, being a woman existing in America, 1948, the symbol of the Lottery become clearer. This fact made her a person who had to follow the tradition because that is what defined her during those times. Issues such as lack of voting rights by the women and other bias tradition to the endangered group, the women, are all relevant in the real world. These traditions are normally difficult to be corrected by those who are not affected as those in power and, therefore, The Lottery helps in illuminating them.

My Opinion

The author is giving us challenge through his story by revealing whatever happens in the story and relating it directly to our contemporary society. It challenges how we perceive situations that are surrounds us and how we deal with issues that we consider as threats to our existence. To ensure that we are safe enough we end up going an acting astray cruelly and in an inhumane way to those we perceive dangerous to us or our families. Jackson strives to remind us of these inhumane actions which she considers takes us back into the dark days where humanity was not a priority but survival. The character Warner represents some of the traditional forces that are not flexible to change with time.

Nobody in the village ever questioned the rationale for the lottery, and that is precisely what brings out the depth of its meaning. The stagnant state of mind that prevents our mental development and leads us to aberration. The fact that the villagers continued to carry on with a tradition that was outdated, morbid and made no sense, is indicative of stagnation, ignorance, and lack of common sense. Not questioning the status quo and preserving traditions that serve no purpose are also indicative of a mentality that resists change. The lottery, therefore, characterizes social and psychological stagnation.


Murphy BM (2005), Essays on the literary legacy, McFarland &Company

Nebeker E.H (1994), the lottery: Symbolic tour de Force, volume 46. Thomsons corporation.

Thoreau H.D (1965), Essays on civil disobedience.

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